Jokes are funny until they aren’t.
When the joke is at your expense, you get to decide if it’s insulting or not.
So, when you ask your friends to stop picking at a sore spot and they refuse, what do you do?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) onequestionthrowout1 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for telling my friend she got an STD from sleeping around?”
OP began by setting the scene.
“I was hanging out with a friend of mine and a group of her friends.”
“We were all talking and having drinks, and the topic of dating comes up in conversation.”
“For some background information; I’ve only had one boyfriend (I’m 24) we dated for 4 years, and broke up about a year ago.”
“I’m mostly a loner.”
“I’m fine with being single right now and have no interest in dating at the moment. My friend knows this.”
“She starts lightly teasing me in front of her friends, pretty much calling me a spinster.”
“She ‘dates’ a lot.”
“Every week she tells me about two or so guys that she’s slept with. This kind of started a pile-on, where everyone was teasing me, and giving me unsolicited advice.”
“I tried to placate it, but she kept bringing the conversation back to me and my (lack of) a sex life.”
Everything was fine, until…
“Eventually I got really heated, and just said “so is your crotch still burning, or is that cleared up? What did they say about that? Was it guy 104 or 105 that gave it to you?”’
“Like three weeks ago she called me crying to take her to the clinic because she had painful itchy blisters on her groin, which turned out to be herpes.”
“I did it without judging her at the time.”
“She quickly stood up and left the table.”
“I tried to follow her to apologize and she went off about me outing her to her friends.”
“She was telling me how I was the only person she trusted, and she couldn’t believe I would act that way.”
“I tried to remind her how she and her friends were dog-piling me, and she said it was just jokes, I didn’t have to react that way.”
“We are obviously not speaking right now.”
OP was left to wonder,
“Was what I did justifiable self-defense?”
“I know I probably wouldn’t have done it without liquid courage.”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: ESH
Some pointed out everyone’s mistakes.
“First, nobody should be harassed for not being sexually active, it’s not a badge of honor.”
“Not dating isn’t a crime. Your friend sucks.”
“Second, I get why you were mad, but you suck for waiting until you blow up.”
“Someone harassing you? ‘Guys gonna say this only once – my dating life isn’t up for debate. You need to stop.”‘
“‘I will leave the table / the room each time this convo starts”’.
“Then, whenever someone starts – leave. Physically.”
“If your friends consistently continue this conversation despite you not wanting it and despite you leaving – they aren’t your friends, make new friends.”
“Also sleeping with 100 people isn’t what gives you STD.”
“It’s having sex with one person with STD and not using protection. Slut shaming isn’t a helpful way to decrease the incidence of STD – education and protection are.” ~ uglykitten2020
Others wanted to clarify some STD misconceptions.
“‘It’s having sex with one person with STD and not using protection.'”
“Herpes spreads by skin-to-skin contact.”
“Condoms aren’t a super effective way to prevent contracting it, nothing really is. Getting herpes is one of those things that is largely about statistics.” ~ thefirstnightatbed
“And it’s asymptomatic in a lot of people so if you’re not in the habit of getting tested you may have it without even realizing it.”
“I don’t even know which of my TWO long-term boyfriends I got it from because neither of them ever showed symptoms and my current bf hadn’t been tested recently before me either so we don’t know who got it from whom.”
“I probably would have never found out I had it but I was under insane stress at one point and it caused an outbreak. That was a year ago and nothing since.”
“I think like 1 in 6 people carry the virus so I guess the moral of the story is get tested regularly y’all but also stop stigmatizing it because it’s more common than you’d think and hardly anyone that has it is walking around with oozing horror show genitals.”
“I literally only remember I have it when I see people pearl-clutching about it on the Internet.” ~ amandacg29
“Even if you are in the habit of getting tested, many doctors (and the CDC) recommend you not get tested if you don’t have symptoms. If you go in and say you want to get tested, it isn’t on the list.” ~
While everyone was wrong, some felt that responsibility wasn’t evenly distributed.
“But you are more TA, and went WAY the f**k too far.”
“She trusted you with a scary private bit of medical information (getting herpes) and you used it to publicly shame her.”
“You’ve probably tanked this friendship, she would be completely justified to never talk with you again.” ~ wobblebase
“Sounds possible she was teasing and didn’t realize how hurtful it was.”
“I’m not saying that excuses it, just that I don’t think we have enough info to say she was a sh*t friend overall.” ~ newyne
“I don’t usually comment here but holy sh*t you guys are living in a bubble.”
“A Bit of teasing between (probably drunk) friends about her not dating or other uncomfortable stuff just happens sometimes.”
“If it really got under your skin you tell them later. No reason to break off a friendship.”
“If I told a friend I was HIV positive in private and they start to publicly shame me for it – that’s an actual a-hole move and probably a person I’d never want to see again.” ~ Maxxxiene
Others felt OP was justified.
“Lowkey 100% agree w this, OP’s outburst was justified though it may have gone too far.”
“But also you really don’t want to be friends with someone who constantly makes fun of you for choosing not to have many sexual partners.” ~ mersketit
“Yeah op was an a**hole but personally I think it’s justified.”
“I f*cking hate when people pile on in an attempt to humiliate someone.”
“Go nuclear, turn it around on them, and don’t allow yourself to be looked down upon.”
“If you allow yourself to be bullied it becomes accepted and gets worse, people see it as OK to treat you like sh*t because others are flagrantly doing it too.”
“I was in a similar situation before.”
“Was depressed as f*ck after a relationship ended and two people who I considered to be some of my best friends made a habit of mocking me in front of all of our friends and even on social media.”
“I was super depressed, so having my whole social circle see me get mocked really hurt.”
“There were girls in our circle who I could tell looked at me differently after that, making it even harder to find someone new.”
“I took it on the chin for too long and my image within our circle noticeably took a hit. Girls who flirted with me before now pitied me for how my friends treated me.”
“Those people won’t be your friends for life, so even for your own dignity going forward into new social circles, go nuclear on those a**holes and move on, don’t just tuck your tail between your legs and saunter off in shame.” ~ eloncuck
A few even thought OP was just wrong.
“Instead of teasing her back about how her bedpost can’t fit anymore notches you chose to disclose her medical issue.”
“YTA and an immature and untrustworthy person.”
“Don’t be surprised if the other people at the party either cut you out totally or, if they’re nice, only stop treating you like a trusted friend.”
“If they don’t, you might want to watch your back with them since they weren’t bothered by your cruelty.”
“Sadly there may be no way to make amends beyond a sincere apology and acceptance that the person you outed and insulted may no longer want to have anything to do with you.” ~ MillbraeBaeBae
“You shot her with a howitzer because she threw a snowball at you.”
“I don’t see how you are so blind to see how what you did was f*cking awful.” ~ Panacea4316
“Don’t out someone’s medical issues, and don’t joke about them or use them against someone.”
“(And ‘was it guy 104 or 105’ it’s almost 2020 and were still slut shaming?)”
“When you hurt your friend, she got up and walked away.”
“You had the option of doing the same thing, and you chose to be vindictive.” ~ itmf121819
She did return to set the record straight,
“I did ask her to stop, I was trying to keep things friendly.”
“I did not say that she had herpes. I said she had a burning crotch.”
Of course, how you stand up for yourself matters too.
It is simple to turn back to a situation and pick apart the fault of the parties involved or critique the way something was said or the appropriate recourse.
In the moment, things happen in seconds that can take years to heal.
When in doubt, be kind.